Monday, September 27, 2010

When did media decide 'not compliant'?

The introduction of Mass Printing and Newspapers was a plus.

The introduction of Broadcast Television was a plus.

The introduction of Twitter was a plus.

If twenty years ago somebody said that the you will be able to watch high definition movies streamed from the street cable, through the computer onto a 32 inch television, then you would think that would be a plus.

If that same someone said that you would be able to drive your people carrier, and have a great quality film played from the front, and viewable to both children in the rear seats then you would think that would be a plus.

Here is the DRM nonsense that is 'required' in order for the last two to work.


Question: If somebody compromised the encryption on those three standards and published the keys tomorrow would your convenience change?

Certainly your hardware would not stop working.

You might suddenly find that at home that older television, in the other room would now stream okay - no more blank screen and laptop 'not HDCP compliant' error messages.

You could rig an extra lead out the back of the 'in car' blu-ray player, and your partner could enjoy the film in the passenger seat on their Samsung Galaxy Tablet.

Well the big news this week is that somebody just did cross off the first item (HDCP), and Intel have confirmed this.

I am sure there will be a concerted 'Chicken Little' campaign to try to convince you that the loss of HDCP is something to be regretted. Is your life any worse honestly?

Links and Further Reading:

The next convenience - high definition streaming without cables:

Wireless Display (WiDi):

Intel has built in HDCP to control which of your monitors/TVs will be 'allowed' to receive a stream.

HP Wireless TV connect:

As far as I can tell TV connect makes no restriction on which of your monitors/TVs can receive the stream.

How can I have less DRM in my living room?

  • Avoid buying Televisions by Sony or Toshiba
  • Avoid buying laptops from the same.
  • If you want a streaming device, then buy one that is Nvidia Ion or ARM based and skip Atom.
  • When you buy a new monitor, ensure it has DVI input and HDMI input so that you have two connection choices.
  • Test out your new Television, Monitor, and Laptop and ensure your streaming is unhindered. Immediately return any item which does not 'play nicely' and report it as defective to the shop.
  • Research before you dive in to wireless streaming - do you really want a box that restricts which monitor/television you can watch the stream on?

( I have deliberately avoided mentioning fruit names in the above list. Most people who own a pair of iSocks or an iBra already know they are holding hands with DRM, but it seems not to matter to them much, so why bother. )

Saturday, September 4, 2010

dns propagation - why rescuing a dropped site takes time

Domain Name System (dns) is quite involved, and the first time people encounter issues is perhaps when their website disappears from the internet.

An extract from Wikipedia:

As a noteworthy consequence of this distributed and caching architecture, changes to DNS records do not propagate throughout the network immediately

So your website has disappeared and you want it back as soon as possible, but how will that happen? and when will the problem be completely fixed?

Firstly a little explanation....

I have a domain and in order for people to see the site I must have created it, hosted it, registered the domain, AND have a publicly available properly formed dns record.

The last bit is rarely considered specifically, as another company will usually do that on your behalf. However if you have issues with dns, then you should take a keener interest in that last bit about the dns record.

http -> domain lookup -> NS records -> nameserver -> A record -> IP -> homepage

Okay that is a highly simplified, and somewhat abstracted, flow diagram of what happens in order for your homepage to appear.

Dropped sites:

By 'dropped sites', what I mean is that the Domain Name System process, for your site, has fail somewhere in the portion:
...-> domain lookup -> NS records -> nameserver -> A record -> ...

and the result is that your web browser responds with:
Problem occurred while loading the URL

If the problem is that no dns record is known to the Domain Name System, then whoever manages your domain and/or nameserver will have to create a new dns record or fix the existing dns record.

Even if your provider does that right now, then it might take a day or two for those records to propagate, and your website and mail to start working totally how they should.

This is not a failing of the Domain Name System, it is a distributed system designed to scale massively, and to use multiple listing servers to spread the load.
The downside of this is that things take time to propagate to all corners of the vast internet*

( *In particular broadband providers maintain their own dns caches and so that is sometime an additional delay for correct records to be picked up on users PC )

Analogy: Dropping out of dns is a bit like forgetting to renew your yellow pages/thompson directory entry for your business. When you do get the new entry created in yellow pages, it takes time before the new printed catalogue gets to all your customers.

Dns is a technical area, and there are a whole host of consultants and specialists, who can assist you with diagnosing issues.

There are also online tools to help you check your domain, these work well, but may not be the whole story.

The piece which is not so easy to quickly pick up, is being able to speak with technical confidence to your provider, in order to press for a satisfactory outcome.